What is a project?

Through the ages, mankind undertook many different kinds of projects. Ancient projects typically involved construction and resulted in structures such as the pyramids, the Great Wall of China and cathedrals in Europe. In modern times man continued to build physical structures such as buildings, roads, bridges and railway systems and also developed a vast range of products such as motor cars and electronic equipment and even undertook space travel. All these endeavours involved projects.

Project management developed in the engineering industry and is still part-and-parcel of the work of most engineers in all parts of the world. The construction industry, aerospace and defence industries contributed significantly to the develop­ment of this discipline. However, project management also proved to be very effective in many other situations where change and uncertainty prevail. The result is that, during the last number of decades, project management has found wide application outside the engineering profession and can hardly be seen as purely an engineering discipline any more.

Project management principles are used in the IT industry, it is used to create and improve production facilities, for financial and other audits, to produce movie films, to change the structure of organisations, to organise conferences and to manage political campaigns, military operations and sports events such as the FIFA 2010 World Cup. Within your lifetime you will probably undertake a number of small projects such as a wedding, holidays, renovating a house and moving into another house.

Definition:

A project is any planned, temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique , high-quality product, service or other complete and definite outcome (result or deliverable)within a limited time scale and with limited resources – a limited budget.

Projects normally require the mobilisation of resources from a number of different functions (or disciplines).

Excerpt from:Project Management – a multi-disciplinary approach, edited by Herman Steyn.

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